Health and Safety prosecution of Devon and Cornwall Police continues

By agency reporter
April 15, 2019

The next hearing for the prosecution of the Office of the Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall Police will take place from Monday 15 April 2019 at Bristol Crown Court.

In October 2018, the Office of the Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall Police pleaded guilty to charges under section 3 and Section 33 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, in relation to the police force’s use of an Emergency Response Belt to restrain Thomas Orchard.

This was the first ever guilty plea on Health and Safety charges from a police force in relation to a death in custody. This Newton Hearing is for the court to determine whether the breaches caused Thomas Orchard’s death in 2012. There will be a separate sentencing hearing in May.

Thomas Orchard was a fit and physically healthy 32 year old church caretaker, living independently in supported accommodation at the time of his death. He had a history of mental illness and a diagnosis of schizophrenia. On 3 October 2012 he was arrested and detained by Devon and Cornwall officers in Exeter City Centre following reports of his bizarre and disorientated behaviour.

He was transported by police van to Heavitree Road Police Station. Upon arrival, in addition to the triple limb restraints applied, an Emergency Response Belt (ERB), made from a tough impermeable webbing fabric, was put around his face. The ERB remained held around his face as he was carried face down to a cell where he was left lying unresponsive on a cell floor. By the time officers re-entered his cell, Orchard was in cardiac arrest. He was transferred to hospital and pronounced dead on 10 October 2012.

* More about Newton Hearings here

* INQUEST https://www.inquest.org.uk/

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